The idea of ‘loving yourself’ is one that is sweeping our culture. We're told the answer to depression, anxiety, loneliness, and more is to simply love yourself. It’s implied that a higher self-esteem is the answer to all our troubles. While I don't agree with that thinking entirely, I do think we're called to love ourselves and pay attention to our needs. In Mark 12:31, Jesus tells us to, "Love your neighbor as yourself," which means we must love ourselves, too. Loving yourself doesn’t have to mean you have an inflated ego. It can simply mean paying attention to what your body, heart, and soul need and allowing yourself to answer to those needs.

Valentine’s Day, as any other holiday, can feel lonely and isolating. Or, if you do have a special someone, the day can leave you riddled with guilt over all you can’t do with them. Even this lighthearted and fun day can bring painful reminders of the reality of chronic illness.

It's easy to get consumed with how hard this battle is and all the ways you hate your body. So, in the spirit of Valentine's Day, set those things aside and take time to love your body and care for yourself for a little while. Here are five ways to get you started.

1. Save Up Your Energy And Take A Long Soak In The Bathtub.

Add a little Epsom Salt or some essential oils if you’re able to, and relax. It may be tiring, but hopefully, the feeling of being clean, calmer, and refreshed will be worth it.

2. Watch Your Favorite Movie.

Maybe the idea of watching Netflix doesn’t seem all that special to you, but it can be fun to watch an old classic or one you love and haven’t visited for a while. Invite some friends to a pajama party and dive into someone else’s story for a little while. Bonus points if it’s funny. They say laughter is the best medicine.

3. Treat Yourself To Something Tasty.

Valentine’s Day often includes chocolate and other candies that many of us can’t eat, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have anything sweet at all! There are so many options these days to buy or make. Find something that looks good and either buy it or ask someone to help you make it, and then enjoy your special treat. You can check out my Sweet Treats Pinterest Board for ideas if you'd like.

4. Forgive Your Body.

It’s easy to be angry, I know, but your body can’t help what’s happening to it. Take time to release the frustration and then focus on what you do love about your body. Maybe your immune system sucks, but you have fabulous hair. Or maybe your joints ache, but your eyes sparkle! Don’t discredit the little things about you that are lovely.

5. Continue To Let Go Of Negativity.

It’s more than okay to be upset about being sick and to grieve the season you’re in. But don’t stay in that place forever. Find things you’re thankful for and that bring you joy. Write down a list of those things and reflect on the good parts of where you are in life.

I know you may be struggling. Illness of any form is hard. But you are stronger than you know and so worth loving. Let yourself believe that this week. Happy Valentine's Day!